Power plays: Homers, K's lead Astros to sweep

Power plays: Homers, K's lead Astros to sweep

HOUSTON -- George Springer walloped a pair of homers and Luis Valbuena homered for the third game in a row to lead the Astros to their first three-game winning streak of the season and a sweep of the Orioles with a 4-2 victory Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.

"I don't really care about the three-game winning streak or getting over a hump or anything like that," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I care about playing good baseball. From my perspective, it's about showing up every day and giving yourself a chance to win, and we've done that a lot. We've done it more than our record shows. But it's good to complete them and get through the game."

Astros starter Lance McCullers picked up his first win of the season by striking out 10 batters and walking six in five innings, leading the way for a Houston pitching staff that fanned 15 batters, running its total against the Orioles to a Major League-record 52 for the three-game series.

McCullers' strong start

"This hasn't been fun," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said of his team's first sweep of the season. "I saw we set the record for strikeouts in a three-game series. Let's get ... out of Houston."

The only run the Orioles scored in support of starting pitcher Kevin Gausman came on a homer in the second by Mark Trumbo. Gausman (0-2) struck out seven batters and allowed four runs and five hits in five innings.

"We played good baseball these couple of days against the Orioles," McCullers said. "They're a great team. We're looking forward to keeping it rolling on the road. We have a lot of momentum to bring to L.A. and Arizona, and we're looking forward to continuing to play good baseball."

Valbuena's two-run shot

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Double dingers from Springer: Springer took over the team lead in homers with 11 by recording his third career multihomer game and first since June 15, 2015, vs. Colorado. It was also the Astros' fifth multihomer game this season and first since Tyler White went deep twice on May 17 at the White Sox.

"I understand who I am as a hitter," said Springer, who's been on base in 16 consecutive games. "I understand what I have behind me, and the most important thing is just get to first base no matter what, and see what happens."

Springer's solo shot

Tolliver debuts: Ashur Tolliver made his Major League debut in place of Gausman as the 28-year-old lefty took over in the sixth inning. He struck out three and walked one in an impressive four-out appearance.

"It was awesome," Tolliver said. "Everything I'd hoped it would be. A lot of the adrenaline, I had guys like [Zach Britton] and [Darren O'Day] down there [in the bullpen], kind of talk me through it and say, 'You can do it. Same game.' But, yeah it was special."

Tolliver's first strikeout

Whiff party: When Michael Feliz struck out Jonathan Schoop in the sixth inning for the team's 11th strikeout of the game, the Astros set a Major League record for strikeouts in a three-game series with 48 and finished at 52. The Astros are the first team since 1913 to strike out at least 15 batters in three consecutive games.

"The bullpen and our rotation really did a great job of finishing at-bats," Hinch said. "We set a record in a three-game series, which is really executing pitches and getting ahead and then finishing the at-bats. I think the confidence grows as the strikeouts grow."

McCullers' 10th strikeout

Gausman done in by homers: The O's righty tied a career high in surrendering three homers, which was set in just his second career start back in 2013. Gausman entered the game having allowed just three homers in six starts this season.

"A couple bad pitches and falling behind guys, I think, was the biggest thing," Gausman said of what went wrong in his outing. "When you're in there having prolonged at-bats, seven, eight pitch at-bats, you're showing everything you have. So especially early on, you throw that many pitches early on and be kind of sporadic, they started laying off some good pitches and fouling a lot of good and bad pitches off. You just try to get through it."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Orioles have struck out a combined 73 times over their last five games.

QUOTABLE
"It's about winning and losing. They are very frustrated, and I am for them. Can you imagine what it's like to have that type of ability at your fingertips and not be able to get to it?" -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter on his club's struggling offense 

REPLAY REVIEW
The Astros successfully challenged a call in the seventh inning. Jake Marisnick was thrown out at third base trying to stretch a triple, but the club challenged that the ball hit off a seat down the right-field line and should have been a ground-rule double. The double was confirmed and Marisnick was sent to second.

Umpires review Marisnick out

WHAT'S NEXT
Orioles: The Orioles will head to Cleveland for a three-game series that wraps up a three-city road trip. Right-hander Mike Wright will get the ball opposite Indians righty Trevor Bauer on Friday for the 7:10 p.m. ET game.

Astros: The Astros travel to Anaheim to meet the division-rival Angels for the first time this season, beginning with Friday's 9:05 p.m. CT first pitch. Mike Fiers will start for the Astros, looking to go seven innings for the third consecutive game.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.